The Editing As I Go Thing Isn’t Working
Well, I was a few days into my new plan to edit the story as I go along when I realized it wasn’t going to work. Sometimes I don’t get back to a story until two or more days later, and when I do that, I forget things that happened in another chapter. For example, today while I was writing Make Believe Bride, I went back to Chapter 1 and saw a huge inconsistency issue. I changed it, but who knows how many of the details I’d miss if I relied on reading the previous day’s writing for my initial edits?
I can’t sit down and read an entire book in one sitting to make sure things line up before I write for the day. I’ll never get a story done doing that. I don’t want to skim, either, because skimming still means I’d miss something. For example, someone could be sitting in one part of the scene and standing later on. These things happen during the first draft, and when I go through, I usually catch all of them. Yes, my editing team helps me pick up the things I missed, but I don’t want the list of inconsistencies they catch to be longer than what they already find. I’ll end up rewriting segments of the book, and that could lead to more errors. So I’m going to just do the first draft and work through the entire story when I’m done.
Moral of the Story
If you don’t try something, you won’t know if it’ll work or not. One of the benefits of self-publishing is that authors can change the course if it isn’t working. A lot of what I do is trial and error. Failure is another way of saying, “Try something else.” In this case, it was, “Go back to the way you were doing it before.” And that’s fine. Last year, I tried plotting, and I realized it was not for me. I never would have known that for certain if I hadn’t done it.
Now, someone might ask, “Why don’t you try KU and see if it works?” The answer to that is that I’ve decided not to give Amazon exclusive control over one of my books. I have a book in the Amazon Australia store that has been removed from sale. I don’t know why. Amazon doesn’t always explain the why of what they do. As other authors are quick to point out, “It’s their sandbox, so it’s their rules.” To which I say, “Fair enough, and since I don’t like the rules, I’m not going to play.” If I can’t control what they do in one of their storefronts with a book that is wide, that’s bad enough.
At least I know that book is for sale on other platforms. I had a reader ask me about that book in the Australia store, and I couldn’t explain why the book wasn’t there because I don’t know why Amazon removed it from sale. It’s hard to answer someone a question when you don’t have an answer. Self-publishing offers a lot more control than going with a publisher does, but it doesn’t offer control over what a retailer does. By the way, I have lost a couple of books at Kobo, too. This isn’t just an Amazon issue. With Kobo, I was able to go to my Smashwords dashboard, take it off Kobo, and then send it back to Kobo. Doing this worked every time I had to do it, which up to now has been about three times.
At the end of the day, the author needs to do what works best for him/her.
Self-publishing does put an author in a vulnerable position. We have to be our own advocate. There is no publisher who is there to be a mediator for us. However, a publisher can only do so much as well. There is no perfect system. Each author has to pick the pros and cons to each decision and go with the one that works before for them.
But please understand, there is no easy button. Things don’t always go the way an author hopes they will. All authors can really do is write the book to the best of their abilities and get it into the world. Sure, they can promote the book, but the effort of their promotion are highly reliant on who sees the book, who reads it, and who tells others about it. That stuff is outside of the authors’ control. That is why the writing business is not easy. It requires a lot of hard work, and often, the fruit from their labor won’t come in right away. It takes time to build a solid foundation.
I do agree with people who say the gold rush of self-publishing is over. That’s not coming back. But it doesn’t mean authors can’t still build a longterm career with their books. I do think it’s going to take getting more books out there to make that happen. Except in a few cases, most authors need a heavy backlist to gain momentum. One caution I would offer is that even though you might have more books out, it doesn’t mean you’ll make more and more money. I know it’s popular to hear that authors can secure a lot of money in a short amount of time or that money keeps going up all the time because you added more books to the backlist.
Books rise up in sales, and then they go down. Nothing stays on the top charts forever. Check any bestselling book. It might be there for some time, but it will not be in that top spot FOREVER. At some point, what goes up, must come down. And just because people loved that one book, it doesn’t mean they will love all of authors’ books. You might have one book that sells very well and have the next one flop. All you can do is hope the next one does better. Being in this business is a rollercoaster ride. Writing more books does help to keep things more stable, but it’s not a guarantee.
As for what to do for promotion, that has to be up to each author. How much can you afford to spend? What stuff is within your comfort zone? I’m fine with expanding the comfort zone, but you can’t do it to the point where it’s “too” uncomfortable. How much time can you promote while working on the next book? While you are trying to reach new readers, you also need to remember and care about your current fanbase.
It’s all a balancing act, which is why the answer to these questions depend on each individual author. See what I mean about this being hard? There are no easy answers. That’s why I go back to the beginning of this post. Things don’t always go according to plan. Try different things, see what works and what doesn’t, and adjust future endeavors to fit what you learned.
Your last sentence summarizes it all. Nothing works forever and we always have to adjust. Businesses no longer exist because they did not keep up with the changing times, or they did not move soon enough to changing environment. Great post, Ruth!
Adjusting is hard because it requires a whole new way of doing things. I have a hard time with change. Once I get used to something, it’s frightening to start new. But, as you said, businesses no longer exist because they didn’t keep up with the times. So I have to talk myself into moving forward instead of looking back. 🙂
I agree that an author needs to do what works best for him/her. Too often we see what someone else is doing and thinking that it will make us a better or more efficient at what we are doing, only to find out that we just added one more thing to the list of things that works for one writer and not another. At least you figured out that editing as you go doesn’t work for you and dropped it rather than continue to force yourself to do it. 😀
Yep. We are all different. It’s amazing how many ways there are to write a story. It’s fascinating how different we’re all wired. In the past, I would have kept doing it to see if something would click down the road, but these days, I’ve gotten better about realizing if something is a good fit for me or not pretty quickly. Running into brick walls a lot has helped in that regard. I’ve failed a lot of times, but they were all learning experiences. I think I appreciate how complicated being a writer is a lot more now than I used to.
I so understand giving things a try. Depending on what it is, I usually try something for a few days to a few weeks before deciding if it will work out.
As they often say, “If you don’t try it, you’ll never know.” 🙂